Grunting

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Grunting

Post by GreenBean on Wed Sep 24, 2014 10:43 am

I remember reading before that some of you have rabbits that can be territorial about hutches/food, so just wondered if anyone had any extra tips for me with our new foster buns (2 years old, both neutered).

The girl, Morag, is the most friendly thing in the world and loves being fussed over. But she gets very possessive when food (other than hay) is around and will see off the boy, Nelson, quite forcefully with grunts and chasing. He still gets plenty though and they are generally very well bonded. I've tried splitting the food in two, but she just eats hers quickly then goes to chase him off his!

Nelson is quite shy and not a people rabbit - he will grunt when hands go in the hutch. He's not been aggressive at all, but even if you stroke Morag in the hutch and he can see your hand while he's sitting in the back corner, his breathing speeds up a bit. So now we know what he's not comfortable with, we're being respectful of that. If the hutch doors are closed, he's quite happy to approach us though through the mesh and take a bit of grass - although we only do this when Morag is otherwise occupied or she storms in and bowls him out of the way!

When they're out in the run, he's quite comfortable being around us as long as you don't try to approach him - he'll just head back into the hutch if you do. He shows no interest or reaction to Morag being fussed over out there either.

Also, thankfully he will just scoot out to the run when you're cleaning the hutch, so that makes things a lot easier than if he stayed around to defend his turf!

If anyone has any tips or can see anything we're doing might not be helpful, I'd appreciate the input!
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Re: Grunting

Post by Sixer on Wed Sep 24, 2014 3:56 pm

None of my buns - apart from occasionally Gabriel - are people buns. They are not remotely interested in being touched but all come happily for treats which they take from my hand. I have long since realised that they will never be people orientated when they live outdoors in a pair. Of course this means picking them up for health checks and transporting them to runs is a major trauma as far as they are concerned even though this has been going on for years. There is therefore a limit to how much they trust me.

I think as far as Nelson goes all you can do is continue to gain his trust by hand feeding him through the mesh and then maybe progress to doing that in his hutch. If you are able to sit in with him in the run and let him approach you on his terms he may become more confident around you in time. Sometimes however you have to accept that some bunnies are simply 'you can look but not touch'. My Rosie is one of these. She has been with us for 7 years now and still refuses to let us put a finger on her and still goes rigid when held.

As for the food issue, unless you can split them whilst eating I am not sure there is a lot you can do especially if Nelson is not too stressed. Maybe hand feed Morag so you are controlling the speed at which she eats. She sounds a right stroppy mare! I have come to realise that does are potentially the more troublesome sex in the rabbit world.
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Re: Grunting

Post by jolovesbunnies on Wed Sep 24, 2014 5:57 pm

I have had off hand buns before and some really friendly ones. I am lucky woth Holly, she is the friendliest ever and very sociable even when we have people in.

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Re: Grunting

Post by Amelia66 on Wed Sep 24, 2014 7:51 pm

With the food issue you need to scatter feed them and not from a bowl so they can forage for food and neither can fight the other for it as it will be spread over a bigger distance.
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Re: Grunting

Post by cheryl'n'bruce'flo on Wed Sep 24, 2014 7:54 pm

Flo is an antisocial grunty bun. After 7 years with me she does now grudgingly allow me to give her noserubs as long as there is a food reward in it for her. I have had her since she was a baby and she has never been badly treated or put through any particular stress. She grunts and lunges a bit but she has never actually attacked me, but it is a warning.

However it sounds as things may have been a little different for your pair. As a fosterer I guess you want to do something to work towards improving their confidence when they are with you to improve their rehoming potential. I would suggest the following:

1. invest in some fenugreek crunchies and break them int smaller pieces to use as treats for positive reinforcement for the other things that you do.
2. whenever you approach the hutch give a piece of crunchie in order to get the buns to associate people with nice things. Do this through wire and with the hutch door open.
3. when approaching Nelson put your hand in front of his nose - this can be some distance away - and leave it there for a while. This is the human greeting equilavent of offering your head in submission. You are asking permission to approach the bun and will help Nelson to feel more relaxed. Sooner or later he will check your hand out and he may let you move on to touch then - or he may not.
4. If he does let you touch him think about mimicking the licking motion of Morag grooming him. Rabbits are very touch sensitive and generally do not like being touched on their bum, belly and feet.
5. Another technique promoted by Anne McBride is attaching a soft baby brush to a longer pole/stick and using this to stroke the bun. This way they are getting used to touch without associating it with a human stood over them.

Re the food issue, a treatball is the way to go. Get a dog sized one rather than the tiny bun ones. The rabbits will work together to push around the ball and free the food but it is harder for one of them to be possessive over the bits that fall out.


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Re: Grunting

Post by c.bolduan on Wed Sep 24, 2014 8:29 pm

Bubbles grunts when food is brought. She had learned that her feed station was on top of her hutch. Hence I'm now scattering the pellets all over the place and change feeding points occasionally. Sometimes though she wins with the greens. She will look at me like saying" can't you see me sitting here waiting"
Vernon grunts too, but only when we are playing fetch with his blanket. It doesn't seem aggressive more a play.

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Re: Grunting

Post by KatieB on Wed Sep 24, 2014 8:49 pm

Well done for fostering the buns - sounds like Nelson needs some patience and time bless him.

Some excellent advice above xx


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Re: Grunting

Post by GreenBean on Wed Sep 24, 2014 9:11 pm

Some great tips, thanks everyone.

I've got a doggy treat ball (which we got for our last fatty fosters after seeing a video on here) but hadn't got round to getting it out again yet - I'll definitely put their pellets in that. I'll make sure I scatter any veg too. During the day I've been hiding pellets and bits of veg/ grass in the box of hay they have to play in and that's worked out fine, but in the evenings I don't think I've been as creative. If I make plans now, I'll do better last thing!

I strongly suspect that if Nelson does get to the point of allowing strokes, Morag will be chasing him away and coming back to us on her own, fluttering her eyelashes! She loves attention so much and will stretch out with her eyes closed, enjoying all the fussing.

These guys are 2 years old but have had 2 homes, the first of which was in a school. So Nelson may have good reason to be wary or it may just be his personality - time will tell. He's already a lot more relaxed though which is great and he did take some grass from my hand when I was in the run with them earlier with only a very slight hesitation.  I know he'd have been off like a rocket if I'd tried to stroke him though so I will take it slowly.

I like the brush on a pole idea too. I might move it over to him with some grass on at first! Or a fenugreek crunchie - I'll have to get some of those.

Thanks again.
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Re: Grunting

Post by GreenBean on Thu Sep 25, 2014 9:35 am

Just two feeding times later, but the food scattering has worked a treat and really taken the edge off feeding times. I think the anticipation of there being competition put Morag on alert as soon as she saw us approaching but now she's too busy figuring out where she needs to go to get grumpy. So thanks again and I'll let you know how Nelson is getting on.

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Re: Grunting

Post by jolovesbunnies on Thu Sep 25, 2014 3:25 pm

Oh bless her, dooes she look for somewhere to go and sulk lOL?

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Re: Grunting

Post by FluffSlave on Thu Sep 25, 2014 6:34 pm

Morag and Nelson sound just like my Willow and Mojo Laughing

Willow is a mardy mare with him to say the least - especially when there's food involved. I also found the scattering technique really useful for the same reasons. I'm glad it's worked for you too Thumbs Up

As for Nelson, he sounds just like my Mo. Mojo was an RSPCA seizure and we're not sure of what he went through before I took him on but it is obvious that he is not the biggest fan of people. He has come so far already but he'll never be sociable like Willow is and sometimes the best thing you can do is just accept that and let them be (which it sounds like you are). I do hope that with time he warms up to you a bit more though. I never thought Mojo would but he is now at a point where he'll sit next to you (as long as you don't touch him!) Laughing

Good luck with them both, they sound like a real pair of characters Very Happy Love
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Re: Grunting

Post by GreenBean on Thu Sep 25, 2014 8:37 pm

Haha they do sound very similar!  They are full of character these two, that's for sure!

Today I was sitting in the run stroking Morag, and Nelson kept coming over and peering at what was going off, then running back.  I held my other hand down in front of him and eventually he came up and had a couple of sniffs - it did really seem to reassure him (even if I was half worried he would suddenly lunge for it!). Then he came and sat by Morag with his head bowed down to her (so she didn't get narky) and after a while I did give him a few strokes.  I'm not sure if he thought I was Morag grooming him, but he didn't even flinch.  Morag however, popped her head right up as soon every time I stroked him and nudged my hand to go back to her haha! They're so funny, like an old married couple! Jo, I don't think Morag will ever go off in a sulk - she's too much of a diva to leave the spotlight willingly!

I will just let Nelson set the pace, I won't be surprised if I don't get a repeat performance of today for a good while. I just want him to feel happy and relaxed. They're both very playful and get stuck straight into whatever I put out for them to investigate/ destroy, so I'm happy they're both having fun.

They don't seem to be getting the pellets out of the treat ball despite a few helpful demonstrations, but I'm figuring they'll work it out if they're hungry enough!
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Re: Grunting

Post by jolovesbunnies on Fri Sep 26, 2014 4:35 pm

My pets do that too hun, if I stop stroking I am reminded very quickly to start again. Holly will actually nip if she thinks she isn't getting enough attention - as if LOL!

It sunds as if they are coming on really well love, do keep us informed.
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Re: Grunting

Post by GreenBean on Mon Sep 29, 2014 9:54 am

Oh you can count on it, Jo - as much as my husband is supportive of all the animal shennanigans we have going on, he thinks I provide way too much daily detail about how they respond to each little movement I make haha! So I need to get it out somewhere!

Feeding is going beautifully with scattering it - it gets round both Morag's food competitiveness and Nelson's dislike of hands in the hutch. There's nothing we're doing now that's making him uneasy which is great, and he gets much less henpecked by Morag if she hasn't got annoyed with him during mealtimes!

And there are a few times I've been sitting stroking Morag and he's kept coming over filled with curiosity and having a nervous sniff of me/ what I'm doing, then going back a bit before coming over again. In the end he's psyched himself up to come and lie by Morag and it's funny as he definitely hides his head under her, almost so he can't see what I'm doing?! But he's quite comfortable with me stroking him for a bit as long as he can't see my hand.

So I'm pretty happy with that as progress!

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Re: Grunting

Post by Sixer on Mon Sep 29, 2014 2:14 pm

That is lovely news Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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Re: Grunting

Post by jolovesbunnies on Mon Sep 29, 2014 4:18 pm

So far so good love, it won't be long now before he is really confident.

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Re: Grunting

Post by GreenBean on Mon Oct 06, 2014 10:25 am

Things have continued to progress positively - they both seem totally settled and confident with us. Morag is confident that we will shower her with attention and that she can put Nelson in his place if he tries to nick her nosh! And Nelson is happy that he can let us know when he wants attention, and relax without being bothered when he doesn't.

We usually scatter their food outside now, but have had to do it in the hutch a couple of times recently because of the awful weather, and Nelson hasn't reacted at all (he was grunting before) which is hopefully because he knows he can trust us. So it's all good, thanks again for the tips!
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Re: Grunting

Post by jolovesbunnies on Mon Oct 06, 2014 5:43 pm

Ths is great progress love and it can only keep improving. Please keep us informed.

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Re: Grunting

Post by c.bolduan on Mon Oct 06, 2014 6:17 pm

Lovely to hear that things are going the right way!
Keep us posted. cheers Smile

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